Monday, May 3, 2010


Mike Starn working on Big Bambu
By: Dawn Elardo
If you've been suspicious as to whether or not there's a gigantic bird's nest growing on top of the MET, well you'll be glad to know that your suspicions weren't entirely off:  It's a giant bamboo installation done by renowned artists, brothers Doug and Mike Starn--entitled Big Bambu:  You Can't, You Won't, You Don't Stop.  

And if the Beasty Boys come to mind when looking at the title, you're not wrong there either--as it was in fact inspired by the Beasties.  The identical twin brothers came up with the giant-grass-roots idea all the way back in the very early nineties at an art show in Germany, when they originally imagined the art installation to manifest itself into pipes rather than wood.  

Having realized that metal wouldn't hold up their vision of what began as a 14 feet caliber, referred to as the "Sphere of Influence," signifying the events in our lives that grow organically--particularly the ones unplanned, the twins decided to go with the light and the durable bamboo to support the entirety of their concoction.  

The birth of the green mammoth's "default name" came from the song, Big Bambu by Cheech and Chong--the brothers' nickname from high school.  We can only speculate as to why the two were nicknamed as such, but nonetheless here they are now, artistically inclined twins raised across the Hudson in New Jersey -- now having one of the biggest art shows possible in the Big Apple.  The Starn brothers and company have only just begun: they still need to install the remaining of their ultimate bamboo concept--as it will continue to grow through out this summer.  

A Big Bambu Entrance by The NewsGallery 

The upward maze is to grow all the way up to 30-40 feet in the air, as the art installation foretells its ultimate finite form towards the end of its MET-life-span. The extensive piece mimics that of another structure by the Starn twins, erected at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon, NY,  back in 2008, also called Big Bambu.  The construction, which was an arch shape, grew all the way to 50 feet from its infancy to its execution.  Big Bambu Metropolitan Museum style, will also transform into a voluminous green endeavor, just slightly shorter of its predecessor, but still employing about 3,200 bamboos intertwined and locked into one another. 
"We need to make it so big in order to make us—all of us—feel small—or at least to awaken us to the fact that individually we're not so big as we think. Once we're really aware of our true stature we can feel a part of something much more vast than we could ever have dreamed of before." 
A towering fixture indeed:  Upon entering the rooftop garden of the museum, light can only peak through the spaces in between the green forest--dictating the limited options into the wooden puzzle.  In fact, the brothers succeeded in making the viewer feel so enclosed and small, that the majesty we call New York City Skyline does become perhaps secondary--almost hidden behind the Big Bambu, like an after thought waiting to be rediscovered.  In that sense, the installed artwork won its victory of superimposing itself as the treasure of the journey, rather than losing to the backdrop of the priceless scenic view.  

The Guided Tour by The NewsGallery

This summery outdoor installation, diverts from last year's metal dendroid by Roxy Paine--not at all in the interactive department, but more in the sharing department.  With Maelstrom by Painethe silver tree that grew on top of the MET in the spring/summer of 2009, was much more generous to the city as its framework.  

In fact, it incorporated New York as part of the piece--creating a feeling of stepping into an unnatural modern disaster in the middle of a concrete jungle.  Artistically packaged of course, it applied the concrete landscape as apart of its narrative rather than against it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing--it just depends on what you crave: an escape with or without big lights, glimmering in the background.  Either way, you're up for quite an experience--whether or not you choose to hike the Big Bambu, because the Starns simply can, will, and do want you to feel like you're part of the big picture, and to feel small, yes; but bigger in a sense that you've now taken part of something larger than yourself. 

Walking Through the Bambu Maze by The NewsGallery

Check out the MET Rooftop Bar Menu that coincides with the Big Bambu HERE.

Written and produced by Dawn Elardo.  Walking Through the Bambu Maze footage contributed Erez Abittan.

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